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Teaching spinning this past weekend: Laughing and Encouraging my students

Teaching spinning this past weekend:
Laughing and Encouraging my students

Week two of my guest-lecture series in the park was last night. This is an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) fighter practice for a local barony, and they’ve been doing informal (free) bellydancing for years. They’ve been kind enough to allow me to be their guest instructor for an 8-week series to demonstate ATS instruction. It gives me an excellent chance to refine my teaching and to work with a larger number of dancers at one time. My other teaching engagements right now are limited to a 1- or 2-student lessons, so I love the variety in the park.

Also, I never know who might show up at the park. Even though the material builds on foundations introduced in earlier lessons, this series is specifically open to *any* student to drop in on *any* week. So I also need to refine the lessons to allow for both the review material that makes new drop-ins feel welcome and still challenge returning students with new material.

A friend I haven’t seen in many years dropped in last night and complimented me on the experience.

You rocked it! You are an amazing bellydance teacher! Amazingly funny and yet detailed and calm. Great class. See you next week!

Of course the straight-up compliments are very encouraging. But best of all, I never thought about how my instruction style often includes humor. She’s right, I do crack small jokes throughout the instruction, trying to get everyone to relax and laugh and smile while they are working so hard. It’s even easier in the SCA-context because there are so many silly references I can make to help them visualize the posture we’re working on. Want their arms to be wide and strong frames? Envision trying to hug a very sweaty fighter or a kitchen cook covered in flour. Want to have them angle their faces towards the audience? Describe how the fighter who is standing there watching our practice is actually an invited guest at our dance performance, and she’s taking photos. We want to present pretty formations so she gets the best photos of us! (Said fighter played along with my narrative and immediately mimed taking pictures of us.)

I never thought about it consciously but yes, I joke through my instruction and I hope it continues to resonate with students who want to study with me. It won’t work for everyone, but it does seem to draw the kind of students I adore to want to spend time in my classes